Building on a solid foundation: Fifth Street Gaming has big things in store for downtown Las Vegas

The last few months have been good ones for new hotel development in Las Vegas, with major projects – like Resorts World Las Vegas and SLS Las Vegas – being announced or breaking ground on the Strip.

A rendering of Downtown Grand in downtown Las Vegas

A rendering of the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas. (Photo courtesy of Fifth Street Gaming)

Late in 2012, work began on the former Lady Luck, located at Stewart and Ogden avenues in downtown Las Vegas. Fifth Street Gaming took over the property in 2011, five years after it had been closed for remodeling. The Nevada-based casino and restaurant management company is currently transforming it into the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, scheduled to debut before the end of 2013.

“We like to see ourselves in between Fremont Street Experience and the bars at the Fremont East District. We fit happily in the middle,” said Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming. “We appreciate, respect and love what the casinos on Fremont Street have done for years, but we are also very intrigued by the new downtown Las Vegas and the hipness and energy of Fremont East. We plan to be the best of both worlds.”

Downtown Grand is comprised of two towers – the 17-story Casino Tower (east) and the 25-story Jade Tower (west), which are joined by an elevated walkway. Together, they will house 650 rooms and suites that range in size from 350 to 1,024 square feet. The existing buildings have been totally gutted, so everything from the plumbing to the electrical wiring is brand new.

Models of room types at Downtown Grand

Models of two room types in Downtown Grand were recently unveiled to the media. (Photo by Renée LiButti)

Two of the room types were modeled and have been unveiled to the media. They provide a sneak peek of what sophisticated and stylish accommodations lie ahead for downtown visitors.

The base-level guest room offers complete comfort and style. Instead of being dark and masculine, it has a refreshingly light and feminine ambiance with soft-hued green walls and a sky-like trim. Technologically speaking, guests will enjoy a 42-inch flat-screen TV and have free wireless internet access. Schorr expects the average nightly rate to be around $69.

“Downtown Las Vegas has always been about value, and that’s the most important thing to us,” he said. “We’ll make sure with this product you get a much bigger bang for your buck. I say that confidently – you’ll have a room that’s stylish, that feels very relaxing and that includes great service and all the amenities at approximately half of what the rate is on the Strip.”

Situated nearby is one of the upgraded rooms. It’s 25 percent larger than the standard accommodations. Thanks to a corner location, there’s a better view. This room features an elegant maroon color palette and fine, custom-made furniture. In a spacious sitting area, you’ll discover two armchairs and a desk. You’ll also notice a slight Asian influence in these room types.

“We believe that we will bring a Chinese clientele to downtown Las Vegas that doesn’t exist today,” said Schorr.

In addition to a dozen luxurious penthouse suites, Downtown Grand will introduce eight “urban lofts” to the city. Designed with chic industrial elements, like exposed ceilings and stained concrete floors, they’ll feel like something you’d find in New York’s trendy Tribeca or SoHo neighborhoods. One of the urban lofts will even come with an adjacent 1,500-square-foot room where guests can throw their own private parties.

Construction of the casino at Downtown Grand

Construction is under way on the casino in Downtown Grand, which will house more than 700 state-of-the-art slot machines and 30 table games. (Photo by Renée LiButti)

“We’re really excited about the urban lofts. We think they’re going to be our most popular rooms because they’re different from anything else in Las Vegas,” said Schorr. “The neat thing about downtown is it’s very diverse. We really want to have a wide array of offerings.”

Among Downtown Grand’s intended offerings is a 45,000-square-foot casino with a cool brick façade. Named The Spread, the sports book will contain a great New York-style deli – and as a nod to the ’30s, its décor will evoke “The Sting,” a 1973 film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Delighted to open up shop on this side of the Pacific Ocean is The Ninth Island, a shave ice and daiquiri bar that executives encountered in Hawaii. Plus, a diner/bistro called Stewart + Ogden (or S+O) will be positioned near the gaming floor.

“We’ll be able to accomplish two very distinct types of restaurants in one here,” explained Schorr. “We want the informal nature and price point of a diner for breakfast and lunch, while at dinner we want to elevate the experience with more of a bistro environment.”

Another inventive concept slated for Downtown Grand is The Commissary. This upscale food court-meets-market will have about five different culinary options. Several of them will come from Fifth Street Gaming’s own restaurant portfolio – such as iburgers and the Daily Kitchen & Wellness Bar. What’s more, a new venture designated as Short Round will serve Chinese dumplings.

Downtown Grand mood board

One of the mood boards assembled to display the look and feel of the dining options planned for Downtown Grand. (Photo by Renée LiButti)

“The Commissary will have the variety of a buffet, but in a much more interesting atmosphere,” said Schorr. “There will be a little bit that appeals to everybody.”

PICNIC is one more eagerly anticipated idea taking shape at Downtown Grand. It’s  an urban rooftop retreat being built on top of the parking garage. Along with a pool and DJ booth, there will be synthetic grass and park-like landscaping. Imagine buying a picnic basket to share with your family here on Sundays. Outdoor movies and concerts will take place in this space as well.

And that’s not all. Downtown Grand will be at the heart of a much bigger endeavor for Fifth Street Gaming: a 10-acre, four-block district known as Downtown3rd, aka “dt³.” Situated north of Fremont Street Experience and south of U.S. Highway 95, it will offer locals and visitors a pedestrian-friendly, entertainment-oriented experience.

“Downtown Grand is going to be absolutely amazing,” said Sheila Marcello, executive director at Fifth Street Gaming, “and it’s going to be the gem of the district.”

Presently, Downtown3rd consists of the Fifth Street Gaming-owned Triple George Grill and Mob Bar (which will be moving to the corner of Stewart Avenue and Third Street to better complement The Mob Museum) and Hogs & Heifers Saloon. Downtown3rd already hosts a weekly farmers market, held just off U.S. Highway 95 and Casino Center Drive. You can buy organic produce, artisanal food, crafts and gifts on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The east and west towers at Downtown Grand in downtown Las Vegas

Two large exterior building signs were installed last month on the south-facing east and west towers of Downtown Grand. (Photo by Renée LiButti)

“Having an entire street and being able to do outdoor events is another differentiating factor for us from other hotels,” said Schorr. “To be able to create a district is something that is unique to Las Vegas.”

When it’s completed, this emerging metropolitan neighborhood will include at least 17 bars and restaurants. Recently, two 95-foot-by-44-foot exterior building wraps were installed on the south side of Downtown Grand’s towers. They feature photos of aspirational tourists – a “king” and “queen” – who are part of Downtown3rd’s “Make Your Move” advertising campaign.

“The characters take after chessboard pieces. We have a king, a queen, a knight and a rook. The idea behind it is to come down to Downtown3rd and ‘make your move,’” said Marcello, “because we have something for everyone here.”

So just think about what you might desire. A juicy steak fit for a king? A comfortable and affordable room fit for a queen? A unique night out on the town fit for a rook? All of this and more will be at Downtown3rd.

“Downtown Las Vegas is evolving and interesting in a very different way than the Strip,” said Schorr. “It has an appeal and level of excitement that’s a neat alternative. We’re just thrilled to be part of it.”


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.